I really like cinema in general with a preference for science fiction and fantasy, but I haven’t talked too much about a type of cinema that I particularly like, Bis cinema.
Alright, but what is Bis cinema?
Let’s go back to four names that may come up often in the future if I want to be able to talk about these films:
The exploitation cinema
I’ve already talked about it here but to make it short, it’s all action movies, horror, erotic, kung fu… Anything out of the ordinary.
Basically, the B-series refers to the second film that was screened in double sessions in neighborhood cinemas, generally a short-lived genre film, the first film being generally more “normal” or more “classic”. Today, as neighborhood cinemas and double screenings have disappeared, the term B-series is used to designate a genre film shot on a low budget. The main characteristic of these works is to compensate for the lack of means, when they are good, to deploy treasures of ingenuity and an inventiveness which is lacking in a lot of series A. John Carpenter is one of the most famous directors of series B films.
The Z-series is roughly the same as the B-series, often too ambitious for its means. Often bad, sometimes to the point of becoming funny, some of them can be touched by grace to the point of gradually reaching the status of cult work.
The exploitation cinema:
In exploitation cinema, there is also a question of very low-budget genre films, such as B series, but without any artistic pretension. Their only goal is to be profitable quickly by using what attracts the public the most, violence, sex or both at the same time. This type of film experienced its golden age in the 70s and some exploitation films were so crazy that they themselves created a new cinematographic subgenre which will then be taken up by other exploitation films. more WTF who will in turn create new sub genres etc…
Believe me, there are many, many!
Now that we see a little more clearly, let’s move on to my definition. Cinema Bis is therefore:
- A genre film, series B, series Z or exploitation film with a low budget, popular or not (because there are also non Bis auteur films) which at the time of its release is found despised or ignored by critics, because of the film’s slightly crazy or apart aspect.
What characterizes Bis cinema above all is its inventiveness and its great diversity. What you have to understand is that the Bis is not just one genre, it’s a set of genres.
There is therefore a phenomenal amount of completely lit films from all over the planet, which only look like themselves and some of which still continue to inspire world cinema.
When did the Bis cinema appear?
Historically, it dates from the mid-1950s, at a time when the Hollywood system no longer worked properly and when viewers preferred to stay at home in front of their brand new televisions rather than go and lock themselves in dark rooms.
Faced with the cinemas which were gradually emptying, Hollywood legitimately began to panic and therefore left aside the B series to choose to bet mainly on the great films in color like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Bridge on the River Kwaï or “Benhur”. The problem with these spectacular films in natural settings being that they are very expensive to produce and for the sake of economy, it was therefore necessary to relocate filming to Europe, mainly to Italy, Great Britain and Spain.
Technicians from the old continent were therefore able to learn from their American counterparts and realize that there was a place in the field of series B and from there, everyone got into it, English, Italian, Germans, Spaniards and even French.
In the rest of the world:
- However, cinema bis also sees the light of day in the USA with a man from independent cinema named Roger Corman. He alone will build an empire.
- In Hong Kong, Shaw Brosers films are getting more and more talked about and are starting to cross borders.
- In Japan, we exorcise via the cinemas the traumas due to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- In Mexico, genre cinema is developing more and more, particularly with the figure of El Santo
In short, it’s a real universe that awaits you and that’s precisely what made me want to create a new series of articles called “Bis repetita” to make you discover or rediscover some of these completely crazy films, which hardly appear on television anymore and which, in my opinion, are much more interesting and inventive than the ¾ of the cinema releases.
It’s a daring cinema, badly brought up and sometimes extreme but which tries things and that’s the main thing.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones and see you soon!
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2 thoughts on “Bis Repertita: Bis cinema”
Great write up! Don’t forget Dan O’Bannon, who made A films and B films (Alien and Return of the Living Dead).
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I love Dan O’banon but sadly I cant speak of every film maker I love in one article